Learning how to start a pop-up shop can be a lucrative endeavor and a great retail skill to have under your belt.

Because of their versatility, it’s hard to turn a corner these days and not stumble upon a trendy new pop-up store. Whatever your reason might be to explore this option, the holiday season is a great time to do just that.

Maybe you already have a storefront but are looking to expand and want to try out a different area in town. Or maybe you’re batting around the idea of opening up your first small business and want to test out your out-of-the-box concept. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re looking to set up shop during the holiday season to draw in some extra cash. Whatever your goal, you’ll want to pay close attention to the details of both starting and closing your pop-up shop.

The temporary nature of setting up a pop-up shop presents several obstacles as well as opportunities. Some of the barriers include finding the right location, having the right insurance, and selecting the right payment system. The good news? Founded by a small business owner, we know a few things about pop-up shops, so sit back, read, and learn what needs to get done.

1. How to Come Up With a Pop-Up Shop Concept

Before you even come up with a budget or find the right location, it’s wise to come up with a sound idea. Questions to ask yourself include what product or service is trending? What are customers looking to buy? Do you possess the right knowledge about the product or service? What skills do you possess that make you an expert in running a pop-up shop? Though the list can go on and on, these are just a few of the questions that can help you in your journey to determining your killer concept. When coming up with your theme, niche, or expertise, find an idea that you have a passion for rather than one that will require you to make a hard sell.

2. Selecting the Right Pop-Up Location

You’ve heard it before: “Location. Location. Location.” The phrase is widely used by entrepreneurs and real estate moguls who have been successful over the years. The point is simple — for a business to succeed, the location must be just right. As part of how to start a pop-up shop, looking for the right location is important, and many venues are available. Malls, galleries, festivals, and existing and vacant retail spaces are but a few. There is tons of inspiration online for pop-up shop locations, but the location must provide access to the right demographic and foot traffic. Because without the right customer, you can have the most amazing products in the world but it won’t mean much. One of our personal favorites is holiday shopping bazaars in the park. There is nothing like a Christmas tree and hot cup of cocoa to put shoppers in the mood to spend.

3. Designing Your Pop-Up Shop

By now, you have come up with a business concept, so you know what you are going to sell. Furthermore, the right location is in your hands. Having the right location and selling the right products or services is only a part of setting up a successful pop-up shop. So, what’s next? Your pop-up shop should provide the best experience for your customers from the time they walk into your store until the time they exit. Trust us, the better your store looks, the more likely you are to be successful.

This is where branding makes it mark. Selecting the right colors, the right logo, and the right look for your business matters a lot. Lighting, wall treatment, displays, furniture, and receipts need to have a design that reflects your brand. Need more inspiration, you can always find pop-up shop designs online for inspiration.

4. Pop-Up Shop Permit Requirements

There are legal requirements you have to observe before starting a pop-up store. A business license is one document required to run a pop-up shop. If you are selling general wares like clothes, smart devices, and art, you can seek a general business license. If you are selling food or alcohol, you need a special license. Check your local laws for licensing requirements.

A lease is another permit you need to have. When negotiating your lease, you need to know if you are allowed to modify the premises, what time is allocated to operate the business, and is there an option of shifting from a temporary to a permanent business. This is important, as it will help you run your business well.

interior of a pop-up shop - how to start a pop-up shop

5. Hiring the Right Staff

Now that everything is falling into place, you need to overcome a few obstacles. Before you open your pop-up shop, you need the right people who are well trained, knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced. Your staff will help to carry out the day-to-day activities. For example, explaining different products and services to customers, directing customers from one display to another, and receiving payments.

Today, it has become simpler to hire the right employees thanks to social media, word of mouth, and the internet. Using social media, you can post a message on your page, and you will undoubtedly receive many applications.

SEE ALSO: Starting a Small Business 101

6. Renting Pop-Up Shop Furniture

When starting a pop-up shop for the holidays, furniture is a necessity if you want to run a successful business that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. You need tables, chairs, cloth racks, partitions, vintage trestle tables, crates, and easels. These items can be used as displays, as changing rooms, for the staff to rest on, and for hiding sections of the shop from customers. Since a pop-up shop is a temporary business, it is best to rent rather than buy the furniture itself.

Several stores let businesses rent furniture on a temporary basis. One place you can start searching for such stores is online or on social media. Look for business pages that advertise the renting of furniture. You can also use search engines with the appropriate keywords to achieve the same goal.

7. Promoting and Marketing Your Pop-Up Business

Just because you’ve opened your pop-up shop, does not mean that customers will come flooding in. While you may attract a flow of traffic after opening, this will be only for a while. To ensure continued flow of customers, you need to promote and market your products and service. Doing this will guarantee long-term success.

There are several ways you can achieve this; having a website with a shopping cart, through social media marketing and even online ads. You can even kick-start your business with a launch party or a press event.

8. Choosing a Quality Point of Sale System

Even though opening a pop-up shop is a temporary endeavor, you’ll still need a reliable retail POS system. A POS system will not only help you ring up sales, track inventory, and alert you when certain products are low, but can also help you manage your customers and collect information on their likes and dislikes. Just because your pop-up shop is temporary, doesn’t mean you won’t pursue a more permanent storefront in the future. Having a database of email addresses already collected can help you jumpstart your brick-and-mortar efforts.

9. Closing Up Shop (it’s only the beginning)

Now that you have sold your products and services, it’s time to close shop until another opportunity presents itself. What you need to know is that the benefits associated with pop-up shops do not end when you close the doors to our temporary location.

When in business, it is important to capture customer information such as names, email, social media usernames, and mobile numbers. This information can then be used for additional promotional efforts at a later date or to attract customers that are similar to your target buyers.

Whether you’re looking to test a business concept or want to expand for the holiday season, the 9 tips mentioned in this post will help you hit the ground running. Now that you understand how to get started, it’s time to put this advice into action to ensure pop-up shop success this coming holiday season and beyond.


About the Author

Yamarie Grullon has years of experience creating helpful & engaging content for small business owners. As Manager of Content Strategy at ShopKeep, Yamarie provides merchants with practical advice on all things related to their business or their POS system.